February 24, 2015

Dove Arising Blog Tour: Author Interview + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Dove Arising! Today I'll be sharing my interview with the author - and don't forget to enter the awesome giveaway!

Dove Arising (Dove Chronicles #1)
Author: Karen Bao
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopia
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers


Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.

Then her mother is arrested.

The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom:  that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble...

Suspenseful, intelligent, and hauntingly prescient, Dove Arising stands on the shoulders of our greatest tales of the future to tell a story that is all too relevant today.

1. What inspired you to write Dove Arising/The Dove Chronicles?
Dove Arising was inspired by my interest in science, my family history under the Chinese Communist government, and my interactions with introverts.

Climate change and biodiversity loss keep me up at night, and space colonization has always fascinated me, so I decided to have well-meaning scientists escape Earth and set up Lunar colonies. (Ambitious, I know.) Everything fell into place: in the hostile Moon environment, in which a small leak could kill off a whole Base, the government would have to tightly control the people. It’s a great excuse for totalitarianism, really.

To create the worst parts of the Lunar state, such as the inhumane Shelter department and environment of corruption, I looked to my mom and my grandfather’s experiences in Communist China. Because my grandpa was an intellectual with his own ideas, the government sent him to a labor camp, separating him from his wife and children for nearly a decade.

Next, my protagonist’s personality fell into place. Phaet, who’s basically a perfect citizen, works hard in her science classes, labors in the Greenhouses, and most importantly, hardly ever talks. I wanted to show how her oppressive society shaped her personality – but that her introversion didn’t mean she was weak. My best friend, for example, is very quiet, but she’s much stronger on the inside than she seems.

2. Why did you choose to write a dystopian/science fiction series?
I’m very interested in humanity’s future, and both excited and scared by the directions in which we’re headed – technological advances and global economic development are exciting, for example, but climate change and ecological ruin terrify the crap out of me. Science fiction allowed me to stretch these phenomena to their logical extremes, and since a lot of it isn’t good (surveillance, pollution, etc), the book became dystopian as well.

3. Did you have to do any special research for the book/series?
Yeah! Although I had a basic grasp of the natural sciences, I didn’t know much about the Moon. I thought it was a boring old space rock until I found out about things like moonquakes, meteorite showers, basalt seas, and lava tubes. Google, Wikipedia, and the NASA website answered many of my moon-related questions, and helped me figure out which places would be best to build a lunar base.

4. How many books do you have planned for The Dove Chronicles?
Three. I’m actually done drafting the whole trilogy, so I know how it ends. I can’t say more than that, but I can say this: brace yourselves. The feels are coming.

5. Was there a specific person or event in your life that made you want to become a writer?
I never planned on becoming a writer – I always pictured myself as a musician or a biologist. But throughout elementary, middle and high school, several teachers said they liked my stories and encouraged me to keep writing. After I finished drafting Dove Arising, I remembered their encouragement and decided to attempt publication.

6. Favorite or most inspirational book?
I read An Na’s Wait for Me in middle school, and haven’t been able to put it out of mind. It’s about a working class Korean-American teenager, Mina, who’s fudged report cards and a Harvard acceptance letter to please her unrealistically demanding parents – and doesn’t know what she’ll do after graduating from high school. She meets a tough, musical migrant worker who asks her what she wants, and naturally the question scares her.

I loved the portrayal of Asian-Ameircans in this book. Mina, a singer who truly cares about her disabled sister, is so unique. And as awful as they might seem, her mom and dad aren’t one-dimensional “tiger parents.” They’re scraping pennies together to survive, and their desire for Mina’s academic success isn’t just about bragging rights. Na shows that to immigrant families, a child’s achievements are a ticket to a better life for everyone.

Mina and I are both daughters of people who came to this country with nothing. (However, my parents are open-minded, unlike hers.) She and I both rebelled against our communities’ “rules” of getting into a “good college” and making “practical” career choices. We have also, at times, felt like outsiders in our country of birth.

Wait for Me was one of a few YA books with an Asian-American protagonist that I could find, and it showed me that I wasn’t alone.

7. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
I’m usually the one taking advice, but I’ll try to give some as well!

Read everything you can get your hands on – especially books outside your usual preference. See what you like and adapt it to your own style; see what you dislike and avoid it. Give the “classics” a chance. I can’t tell you how much I learned from Charlotte Bronte, my favorite Victorian writer, who gives characters not only a personality but also an “aura”. (If you’ve already read Jane Eyre, try Villette.)

Secondly, embrace the beta reader! Swallow your shyness and show people your work, even if it’s just a chapter. No matter how many edits you’ve done yourself, they will find additional logical flaws, sonic awkwardness, and unanswered questions.

If you’ve hit writers block, and your story refuses to move forward, step back and outline. Usually you have to raise the stakes or give the protagonist more agency.

Social media is great, but writing comes first. (Learned this one from experience.) Go online in moderation!

8. What's up next for you?
Finishing the series, of course! After that, which will be around the time I graduate from college, I’ll take one or two years to write a fantasy book I’ve planned out in my head. Then I hope to go to marine ecology grad school. 

Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with us today Karen!
Karen Bao is a writer, musician, and aspiring scientist. She has a brother three years younger than her and a violin sixty years older than her. Born in California and raised in New Jersey, she currently studies environmental biology at college in New York City. Karen began writing Dove Arising at the age of seventeen. (Author information & photo taken from Goodreads)

Author Links:

Book Links:
Giveaway: (1) Hardcover copy of Dove Arising + (1) Dove Arising T-Shirt (US Only!)


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